Monday, July 13, 2009

Undermining democracy in Samoa

Last week I blogged about the Samoan government's attempt to throw nine opposition MPs out of Parliament for daring to organise themselves into a new political party. The attempt failed after Samoa's Supreme Court ruled that the anti-"party hopping" sections of the Electoral Act could apply only to registered political parties, and that as Tautua Samoa was not even eligible to be registered, the members should retain their seats. The government's initial response was to threaten to amend the law to allow them to kick out the opposition - and now they seem set on moving ahead with this plan. The pretty heavy hints in the ruling that such bans violate the freedom of association affirmed in the Samoan constitution seem lost on them.

Meanwhile, since the ruling, the opposition MPs have been forbidden to attend select committee meetings and are no longer being paid. In other words, the Speaker of the House is refusing to accept the court's decision. And that apparently is how democracy works in Samoa.